To fill the vacancy created by Duval County Judge Lester Bass’s appointment to the Circuit Court, 14 attorneys submitted applications to the 4th Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission. Three currently serve as magistrate hearing officers in the circuit. Six of the attorneys work for the state and five are in private practice.
The applicants will be interviewed by the commission beginning at 8:30 a.m. Monday in the chief judge’s conference room at the Duval County Courthouse. The selection process is open to the public until the interviews are complete and the commission begins confidential deliberations.
It will select up to six nominees that will be presented to the governor’s office. Under state law, a nominee must be appointed within 60 days, or the governor may ask the commission to present additional nominees.
Circuit director, Office of Regional Conflict and Civil Regional Counsel
Education: University of Dayton School of Law, admitted to The Florida Bar in 2001
Janet Abel began her career as an assistant public defender in 2001 in Jacksonville. After private practice from 2006 to 2008, she joined the state Office of Regional Conflict and Civil Regional Counsel where she practices criminal law, including death penalty cases.
Abel states on her application that she has represented clients in more than 4,700 nonjury trials.
In her application, she cited her experience in civil and criminal law in addition to administration and management. As circuit director, Abel oversees 16 attorneys and 11 staff members in Clay, Duval and Nassau counties.
This is Abel’s fourth application for judicial appointment.
General magistrate/special magistrate
Education: Stetson University College of Law, admitted to The Florida Bar in 2001.
After admission to the Bar, Brady began her career as an assistant state attorney in Clearwater. In 2004, she went into private criminal defense and family law practice in Jacksonville, then became an assistant state attorney in the 4th Circuit in 2005.
She was appointed general magistrate in 2017.
As a magistrate, Brady hears civil, mental health, family law and juvenile delinquency cases. She also hears child support matters and as a special magistrate presides over city ordinance violations in county court.
Brady was a founding partner in the implementation of Girls Court in Duval County, an alternative justice program for female juvenile first offenders.
This is Brady’s third application for judicial appointment.
Lindsey Brock III
Rumrell McCloud & Brock
Education: Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School, J.D.; Tulane University School of Law, LL.M.; admitted to The Florida Bar in 1993.
Brock practices maritime, commercial, transportation and insurance litigation.
He was an adjunct professor at Florida Coastal School of Law from 2008 to 2016 and is a member of the Jacksonville Waterways Commission.
“My selection as a county court judge would bring a depth of experience in areas of law, commercial, maritime, transportation, that are vital not only to Jacksonville, but to Northeast Florida as well,” he wrote in his application.
This is Brock’s second application for judicial appointment.
Milam Howard Nicandri Gillam & Renner
Education: University of Florida Levin College of Law, admitted to The Florida Bar in 2002
Michael Fackler began his law career in 2002 as a clerk for U.S. District Judge Harvey Schlesinger. He then was an associate attorney at the McGuireWoods firm from 2004 until 2007, when he joined Milam Howard as an associate. He became a shareholder there in 2016.
Fackler practices commercial litigation and specializes in condominium and homeowners associations with construction defect issues.
In his application, Fackler said his service in the Peace Corps before law school is a “unique and valuable experience” for a potential judicial appointee.
He said living in another country for two years and not speaking the language when he arrived created an appreciation for people encountering the uncertainty and fear of overwhelming situations, such as having to appear in court.
This is Fackler’s fourth application for appointment as a judge.
Assistant State Attorney
Education: University of Florida Levin College of Law, admitted to The Florida Bar in 2003.
Holliday is chief of the State Attorney’s Office’s Human Rights Division that focuses on crimes related to abuse, exploitation and neglect of seniors, excessive use of force by police and hate crimes.
In his application, Holliday cited his work with the office’s community outreach and efforts to connect and be transparent to the African-American community.
“I humbly believe that I am looked to as a leader in this community and seek to serve on an even higher level,” he wrote.
This is Holliday’s third application for judicial appointment.
General magistrate and hearing officer
Education: Florida Coastal School of Law, admitted to The Florida Bar in 2000.
Lanigan was in private practice specializing in family law until she was appointed general magistrate in October 2016.
She hears cases involving dissolution of marriage, child support, custody, paternity, timesharing, certain adoptions and Baker Act and Marchman Act proceedings.
In her application, Lanigan said since she became a magistrate she has conducted more than 2,250 hearings and personally drafted reports and proposed orders for 90 percent of the hearings.
This is her second application for judicial appointment.
Florida State College at Jacksonville; Martino Legal LLC
Title: Faculty member; attorney and owner
Education: Florida Coastal School of Law, admitted to The Florida Bar in 2006, Beasley College of Law at Temple University, LL.M
For the past 10 years, Martino has taught legal studies at Florida State College at Jacksonville while also practicing law as a sole practitioner.
His instructional background includes appeals, criminal law and procedure, evidence, family law, torts and other subjects.
He began his career as an assistant state attorney. In 2007 he joined the Stone & Lockett law firm, then joined the FSCJ faculty and established his sole practice in 2008.
From 2009 to 2014, he was assistant director of moot court and an adjunct professor at Florida Coastal School of Law.
This is Martino’s first application for appointment as a judge.
Spohrer & Dodd
Education: Florida Coastal School of Law, admitted to The Florida Bar in 2000.
Newman began his career while enrolled in law school as a certified legal intern in the 4th Judicial Circuit State Attorney’s Office.
He also was at that time a clerk at the Spohrer Wilner law firm and joined the firm in 2000 when he was admitted to the Bar.
Newman practices civil litigation with a focus on aviation and transportation matters.
He is board-certified by The Florida Bar in aviation law and a licensed pilot.
This is his fifth application for appointment as a judge.
Assistant Public Defender
Education: University of Kansas School of Law, admitted to The Florida Bar in 1990.
Initially planning a career in mechanical engineering, Perkins became interested in the law after taking a college course in products liability.
After graduating and while working as an engineer in the automotive industry in Detroit, he took the Law School Admission Test and applied to a few schools, including the University of Kansas School of Law, where he received his J.D.
In 1989, he was hired by the 4th Circuit Public Defender’s Office and other than a couple of years in private practice, has since defended indigent clients facing criminal charges in Jacksonville.
According to his application, in his nearly 30-year career, he has tried more than 400 cases, including misdemeanors and felonies such as sex crimes and homicides.
This is the first time Perkins has applied for judicial appointment.
Erin Townsend Perry
Assistant State Attorney
Education: University of Florida Levin College of Law, admitted to The Florida Bar in 2007
A career prosecutor in Jacksonville, Perry’s first assignment was in county court, then she was transferred to circuit court.
She currently is a division chief and prosecutes homicides and other major crimes.
In her application, Perry said she believes being an assistant state attorney has prepared her for the bench.
“The function and role of a prosecutor is quasi-judicial. My experience, and how I handle my roles as a prosecutor, has prepared me for the role of a judge,” she wrote.
This is her third application for judicial appointment.
Court Counsel for the 4th Judicial Circuit
Education: Cumberland School of Law at Samford University, admitted to The Florida Bar in 1996.
Taylor is a former assistant public defender, private practice attorney and assistant state attorney.
In her role as court counsel, she assists the chief judge, circuit judges and county judges with the administration of court-related functions such as researching and writing administrative orders and advising the court on contract and human resources matters.
In 2017, she was board-certified in juvenile law by The Florida Bar.
This is Taylor’s third application for appointment to the bench.
Regional Counsel, Northeast Region Florida Department of Children and Families
Education: University of Florida Levin College of Law, admitted to The Florida Bar in 1987
Since he was admitted to the Bar, Tucker has spent most of his career with state agencies, including the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the Florida Senate and currently, the Department of Children and Families.
He became regional counsel at DCF in 2009 and was certified in 2013 by The Florida Bar board of governors in state and federal government and administrative practice.
Tucker also serves as a hearing officer on matters such as payroll and leave disputes and child care licensing and background screening matters.
This is Tucker’s third application for appointment as a judge.
Leatrice Williams Walton
Magistrate and Child Support Hearing Officer
Education: Howard University School of Law, admitted to The Florida Bar in 1986.
A sole practitioner in Washington, D.C., after she graduated from law school in 1981, Walton was a staff attorney at Jacksonville Area Legal Aid from 1984 to 1999 when she was appointed to serve as a magistrate.
She cites her nearly 19 years as a magistrate as preparation for the county bench and wrote “this experience coupled with the training I received while working at Jacksonville Legal Aid Inc. has prepared me to properly evaluate testimony and evidence and render a swift and appropriate judgment.”
In her application, Walton said she has “submitted numerous applications from 1999 to 2009” for judicial appointment and was a nominee in 2004.
Rhonda Peoples-Waters PA
Title: President and owner
Education: University of Florida Levin College of Law, admitted to The Florida Bar in 1999.
Peoples-Waters served four years as an assistant public defender and division chief in the 4th Circuit after graduating from law school, then went into private practice as an associate attorney and in 2008 established her sole practice.
She specializes in criminal defense and representing plaintiffs in personal injury cases as well as family law and probate matters.
Peoples-Waters also worked for the state from 2010 to 2011 as the Jacksonville coordinator for the Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative.
This is her 11th application for judicial appointment.